Research Into Practice
We began our discussions with three overarching questions:
- What are the most important issues facing teachers and other practitioners today? What do teachers really need to know?
- How can we make rigorous research and empirical findings relevant for practitioners?
- How can we best reach teachers, educational leaders, and policy makers through our writing and other media?
During our first working session we identified the educators we most hope to reach—our intended audiences: 1) Teachers, 2) Teacher Educators, and 3) Educational Leaders, broadly conceived as principals, parents and community groups, and school district and state educational policy makers. We also noted topics where evidence-based educational psychology knowledge is clearest such as strategies for reading and writing instruction, positive behavior interventions and support/multi-tier systems of support, time on task, self-regulated learning, peer tutoring, and classroom organization. In addition, we explored some particularly popular “myths” (e.g., multiple intelligences, learning styles, right/left brain teaching) that appear to be influential for the people we hope to reach and why those myths are so compelling. In many ways these myths speak to the optimism, caring, and commitment of teachers. We then moved into working groups based on our target audiences.
Our deliberations yielded a rich set of insights and plans. All three groups agreed that a first step should be to listen to the people we hope to reach, through surveys and needs assessments; attending local, state, and national practitioner conferences; talking to educators we know in our classes, research, and service projects; and reaching out to colleagues such as Sarah Silverman who advise policy makers.
We asked ourselves, what do practitioners need to know and what characterizes the sources they trust to supply this information? For example, why has the work of Carol Dweck and Anglela Duckworth captured the interest of the public? What is it about Malcom Gladwell’s writing that makes it accessible and compelling? Here we noted that a good research project would be to identify and study the outlets that speak to teachers—what information do they provide and in what form or format? A few possible outlets to consider:
- Pinterest, Instagram, FB
Everyone in the Teacher subgroup committed to writing a practitioner-appropriate article about his or her area of work. The piece should be brief and practical, jargon free, and offer many examples, including possibly videos or infographics. Potential outlets include Theory Into Practice and other practitioner journals, public comments, practitioner meetings, Psychology Today, teacher blogs, and Op-Ed sections of newspapers.
The Teacher Educator subgroup decided to identify what their colleagues need—perhaps by creating and monitoring a survey space; responding organically to the needs identified (for example, by linking a teacher educator with an appropriate researcher); then building a website that connects teacher educators with researchers and students and can house resources such as syllabi, evidence-based practices, demonstration videos, webinars, TED talks, and opportunities for joint writing between teacher educators and educational psychology researchers. Brian Kinghorn also started a FaceBook page for the group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/AEPC2014ResearchIntoPractice/).
The Educational Leaders subgroup emphasized Utilizing existing outlets (e.g., teacher coaches, blogs and translational journals such as Teaching Exceptional Children, Educational Leadership, Phi Delta Kappan, Theory Into Practice, the Reading Teacher), Enhancing communication (through webinars, invitations to university events, day passes to professional conferences such a APA or AERA), and Building new links with practitioners (local conferences on local needs, collaborative writing, brief videos for parents).
What we would like to see come from our work at AEPC:
Division 15 members need to go to the virtual and real spaces where practitioners meet. Listen, learn, and link to the trusted outlets for practitioners such as Edutopia or MindShift. Expand collaborative research and writing with practitioners. Invite local educators to campus (and provide lunch) for “Educational Psychology Fairs,” practical poster sessions, Saturday Scholar meetings, or issue-focused panels with both researchers and practitioners. In all these initiatives, the group emphasized beginning by asking, “What are your problems?” instead of asserting, “Here is what research says you should be doing.” Educators are stressed by too many demands with too little return. Respect their abilities and earn their trust. To facilitate work within and across subgroups, the Strand established a Dropbox for sharing resources and developing materials. Finally, we encourage Wade to connect with the key players and educator outlets identified by our strand to monitor their concerns, and then communicate what he has learned to appropriate Division 15 members.
Carol McDonald Connor
Anita Woolfolk Hoy
Mary Ann Gorman
Allen G. Harbaugh
Julia Houston Cunningham
Jennifer Wick Schnakenberg